With captain and lone All-Star Mikko Koivu out for roughly a month with a shoulder injury, the Wild must adjust to life without their leader in points, plus-minus, shorthanded goals and time on ice among forwards.
Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher knows the adjustment won’t be easy.
“Clearly he’s an irreplaceable player,” Fletcher told NHL.com. “There’s nobody on your farm team that can come up and replace his role or the job that he does.”
Fletcher knows a thing or two about replacements from the farm. He’s been forced to rely on his minor league team extensively this season — tonight against Philadelphia, the Wild will dress four forwards that began the year with AHL Houston: Warren Peters, David McIntyre, Casey Wellman and Carson McMillan, who’ll be making his season debut.
The constant call-ups no longer faze head coach Mike Yeo.
“I think we’re used to that at this point,” Yeo said of the constantly changing lineup. “The one thing that’s going to be really important for us, with Mikko being out, we didn’t handle it too well last time. We have to prove to ourselves that we can do a better job of that this time.”
Proving it won’t be easy. Minnesota’s lost the first two of a four-game road trip and faces a tough test tonight in Philly then another one Thursday in Toronto. After that, the Wild play four of their next six on the road with two stops in Colorado, one in Dallas and one in Columbus.
For an eighth-place team that’s clinging to its playoff life right now — Minnesota’s one point up on ninth-place Colorado and two on 10th-place Dallas — this upcoming stretch is crucial.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.